Reverend Opapo Oeti Soana’i talking to the media this morning
BY Lance Polu
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 22 MARCH 2017: The father of the Samoan woman with the stigmata occurrence since Easter last year is giving up his work of 23 years as a minister of the Congregational Christian Church at Siufaga village in Falelatai to serve as a matai of his family.
Reverend Opapo Oeti Soana’i today revealed his decision following months of reports of his termination by Elders Committee of the Church but without a written decision.
Opapo told the media today that he wanted to tell his side of the story as the decision by the Elders Committee has usurped his constitutional rights as he was never called to appear in front of the Committee regarding the matter.
The Elders Committee’s written decision was only delivered yesterday and quotes as reasons, “disobedience when he took his daughter to Rome and failing to remove the statues of Jesus and Mary inside village church as not in line with the beliefs of the Congregational Christian church.”
The differences are between Reverend Opapo and Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara who is the Chairman of the Congregational Christian Church and are rooted in the stigmata occurrence on Opapo’s daughter Toaipuapuaga that began on Easter last year.
“The Chairman does not accept that Jesus is talking to Toa as someone insignificant of the church,” explains Opapo.
Opapo refutes the reasons of the Elders decision as he did seek and obtained the approval of the Chairman to accompany his daughter to Rome and that the Chairman had twisted the reasons when differences sprouted within the village that resulted in the banishment of high chiefs of the village and district.
He also explained that he and his wife knelt and apologized to the Chairman and were assured things were alright after that. Moreover, the church members and Opapo and his wife made the traditional apology – ifoga on a Sunday which was accepted by the Chairman as he kept the fine mat that covered Opapo during the apology.
Despite all this, the Chairman kept to his decision to strip Opapo of his duties.
Opapo has served at Siufaga village for 23 years and Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara for twenty four years. He supported Elder Tautiaga to the higher roles as Chairman of the Church.
“But now we will have to part due to the Chairman’s decision.”
Undemocratic and unchristian decision
Opapo said he has been singled out and treated unfairly and unconstitutionally but there are major issues involving other church ministers and known to the Chairman and Elders but are not being dealt with. He said these issues include the renovation of the John Williams building in town and the new church being constructed at the church headquarters at Malua which he said are a burden to the church members.
He said the decision against him is undemocratic and unchristian.
For that, he has decided to leave the ministry and help his family in his role as a matai and help others as well in whatever capacity he will be guided to do.
In doing this, he said this will keep the village congregation free to seek for a new minister and restore harmony and peace which has been disrupted by these events.
He said he will leave the (Siufaga) village at the end of April as he wanted to celebrate the anniversary of what happened to her daughter as “this is the reason I have been stripped of my ministerial roles and had my family marginalized.”
“I am not going to wait for my roles as a church minister to be restored. I am going to leave and return to my family and serve using my matai titles as I believe it is not the importance of one’s role but to serve honestly,” said Opapo.
“But I will bring with me the statues of Mary and Jesus and keep them here in my home as testimony to the reason for the Chairman to terminate my ministerial duties.”
Opapo’s daughter Toaipuapuaga is due to return to Samoa next Tuesday 28 March. In Rome she gave birth to a baby daughter Agnes Federicca Margitalia “who is healthy and if it was from the devil, she would not have lived as a gift from Jesus,” said Opapo.
Before he became a church minister, Opapo held two matai titles, Leilua of Vaisala village and Lotomaalii of Lalomalava. He has obtained the confirmation from the Lands and Title Court that his matai titles are valid.